Monthly Archives: November 2015
I love the #YourTaxis backlash. Never has one company or collection of workers made me so stressed, upset, and angry.
I’ve been using taxis as my main form of transport for the last 11 years. I have a physical disability which means I use an electric (and sometimes manual) wheelchair for mobility. This disability requires me to use wheelchair cabs and the service I’ve received is degrading and unacceptable.
For the first five years, I was attending high school and had a fantastic consistent driver. However, as soon as I came off government paid transport, I’ve had terrible treatment by the taxi companies and their drivers.
What prompted me to finally make a formal complaint after all these years of bad service was an interaction with the taxi company and driver. I teach at a university and at 1pm that day I rang and booked a taxi to pick me up from the taxi rank at 8pm to take me home after a day’s work. I sat in the cold and waited until 8:15pm until I finally saw the cab. I tried to wave him down, but he drove straight past me. I waited until he looped back, and once again he ignored me. I then rang the operators, was on hold for a further 10 minutes, and told that he couldn’t find me. I was in a well lit area less than 10 metres from him, it would have been impossible not to see me. I finally got his attention and told him I’d been waiting for 25 minutes to which he shrugged and casually said sorry. There was no sincerity behind the apology. I had angry tears in my eyes and when I got home, burst into sobs.
This is not an uncommon occurrence for me. I book wheelchair taxis hours in advance so that I can arrive to my job on time and a lot of the time they are late and/or the driver has no idea how to strap me in and dawdles for a further 5-10 minutes. They usually turn the meter on as well, costing me more than it should for my trips. Other times when I have called for a cab to come as soon as possible, I’ve been left waiting 30 minutes to an hour. I have discussed this with some taxi drivers and they have informed me that this is because wheelchair jobs aren’t as profitable. This is unacceptable. When I order a cab hours in advance to be there at a certain time, that’s what time they should arrive. My time is just as important as anyone else’s. I’m paying for your service, I would like to get what I’m paying for.
I called to organise a set price for my trips to work as I was getting various prices (ranging from $27 to $40). It was set as $27 for specific days and times were arranged. The following week when these were supposed to go into effect, knowing my history with the company’s treatment of me, I rang to double check my cab was coming at the set time, and there was no record of my set price and schedule. I was livid that I had wasted all that time organising and nothing had come from it.
Once I am in the cab, the driving has been reckless and painful for me. Taking corners too quickly and stopping suddenly. I can only imagine what it feels like for individuals with disabilities worse than mine, as well as the elderly.
I’ve had drivers treat me like a child, speaking slowly and condescendingly to me. I am not stupid. On many occasions they have asked ‘What’s wrong with you?’ or ‘What happened?’ inquiring about my disability, which is none of their business. It has caused me significant mental anguish. Furthermore, I’ve had drivers stand uncomfortably close to me whilst strapping me in. I’ve travelled in wheelchair cabs for over a decade now, I know that that kind of contact is unnecessary to physically strap my wheelchair in safely.
My treatment has been degrading and has made me feel like a second class citizen. I detest using Suncoast Cabs, but as they have the monopoly on the Sunshine Coast, I have no choice.
I do have to note that of course not all drivers exhibit this behaviour, some are polite, on time and professional.
I have spent well over $15,000 using taxis over the years and I expect better.
I expect the drivers to know where they’re going. You don’t go to a restaurant, order a meal and then have the chef come up to you and say ‘Look I’m not sure how to cook this, can you guide me through it?’.
I expect the taxis to be on time if I’ve ordered them hours beforehand.
I expect to be treated like a normal person, not talked to like a child, asked rude questions about my disabilities, or not talked to at all!
I expect to be strapped in safely so I am secure and will not flail around as the taxi speeds around sharp corners.
Oh, and trust me #YourTaxis, if Uber started to offer wheelchair accessible rides, I wouldn’t think twice about switching.